Senate Democrats

DEMOCRATS FIGHT TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM GAS PRICE GOUGING

Washington, DC — Responding to the outrageous and still-rising price of gas nationwide, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin and Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, and Maria Cantwell today visited a Washington, DC gas station–where prices today were $3.09, $3.19, and $3.27 per gallon for regular, plus, and premium–to call on President Bush and his Republican Congress to put aside their allegiance to Big Oil and help Americans struggling just to fill their gas tanks.

The Democrats unveiled legislation that will give the agencies responsible for monitoring and cracking down on price gouging the funding they need to protect the American people. The funding will be provided in an amendment Senator Schumer will offer to the Supplemental Appropriations Bill under debate in the U.S. Senate right now, and will give the FTC and other state and federal agencies hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure oil companies are playing by the rules and aren’t exploiting consumers.

“Gasoline prices across America are intolerable and until the President tells oil companies that he’s going to take action, they will continue to hike their profits at the expense of American workers and businesses,” said Senator Durbin. “The President has to call the oil company executives into his office, look them in the eye and tell them they’re harming our economy and killing jobs in America. We need a new direction if we are going to become energy independent and if we want gasoline prices to come down before they cripple the American economy.”

“Gasoline is not a luxury for our families – it is a necessity,” Senator Stabenow said. “It is outrageous that oil companies rake in billions in profits each year while families pay $40 or more every time they fill up the gas tank. We need to stop rewarding the oil companies and get some relief to taxpayers who are feeling the pain of high gas prices.”

Said Senator Schumer, “Last year we offered the amendments that would have recouped billions of dollars the oil industry was socking away by closing egregious tax loopholes and unnecessary tax breaks. This very same White House threatened to use its first veto ever to protect its big oil buddies from these tax measures, even at a time when they’re rolling in record profits. It is proof positive that their rhetoric is hollow and that their actions don’t back it up.”

Senator Boxer said, “If all the oil companies were doing was passing along their costs because of Katrina and Middle East instability, we would see that reflected in their statements. But what we see again and again are record profits. The American people are being exploited and it has got to stop. We either need a windfall profit tax or the FTC needs to order a disgorgement of profits, which it can do at any time.”

“The American public wants more than just talk; they want to see results,” said Senator Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees. “We need to make sure oil companies aren’t manipulating supply, and we need to put in place strong price gouging protections to put some force behind our consumer protection laws. We need to take immediate steps to figure out what’s behind these prices, and push an aggressive alternative fuels development strategy to put America firmly on the path to energy independence.”

For years, Democratic efforts to rein in oil company greed have been opposed by Republicans, but the rising cost of gas has made that obstruction unacceptable. Americans are ready for a real change and Democrats have a new direction to protect Americans from price gouging, revoke President Bush’s hand outs to Big Oil, and make America energy independent.

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